BWW Review: KEN LUDWIG'S TREASURE ISLAND Thrills Audiences at Cincinnati Playhouse In The Park
Ken Ludwig's Treasure Island has docked at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park now through May 19! This action-packed adventure tale, directed by the Playhouse's Artistic Director, Blake Robinson, was adapted from Robert Louis Stevenson's novel of the same name. Treasure Island tells the story of a young boy, Jim Hawkins who is entrusted with a pirate's map and embarks on a treasure hunting adventure of a lifetime. In doing so, he not only finds the treasure but also finds a moral compass.
From the minute you enter the Marx Theatre at Playhouse in the Park, the audience is transported to 1774 England. The gorgeous, multifunctional wooden set, designed by Jeffrey Modereger, allows the stage to be transformed into a variety of scenes: the Inn that Hawkins and his mother run, the "Hispaniola", and a forest in the West Indies.
The set combined with Mathew J. LeFebvre's costumes allowed the audience to experience this exciting classic fully. The pirate costumes were gorgeously crafted. Between the wooden legs and tri-corned hats, the actors were entirely decked out in period pirate garb.
As all adventure tales must have, there are excellent fight scenes in Treasure Island. Choreographed by Drew Fracher, the fight sequences were thrilling and executed by the actors with such care.
Jeffrey M. Bender is a frequent fight sequence participant in the play. Bender plays Jim Hawkins father as well as the famous pirate Long John Silver. With the parrot and wooden leg, John Silver is the typical pirate that one thinks of when imagining these adventurous characters. However, Bender makes him much more complicated and human. From the moment Jim meets John Silver, there is a presence about Silver that him very relatable and raw, but he also seems guarded. Bender has an extraordinary command of the stage, which makes him that much more believable as he is giving orders to the ship's crew. He also has an endearing chemistry with Em Grosland who plays Jim Hawkins. The two share a father-son bond which captures the hearts of the audience.
As the main character and narrator of the show, Em Grosland's portrayal of Jim Hawkins is not to be missed. Grosland fills the character with a daring and youthful spirit, while also having great heart and poise. Jim is in his early teens and runs his family's inn since his father died while away on a trip. To do this, a boy must have quite a bit of spunk, and Grosland's performance is full of this.
The entire cast and crew worked together to make the show run like a well-ordered ship! Run to find Treasure Island at Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park now through May 19! If you don't, you may be receiving a "black dot" or be asked to walk the plank!